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Apple ready to flick switch on Apple TV revolution

With last minute graphics-related issues seemingly sorted out, Apple Inc. expects to begin manufacturing ramp up of its long-awaited Apple TV wireless media hub as early as Monday, AppleInsider has learned.

The move comes exactly 6 months from the day in which the Cupertino-based iPod maker first unveiled the $299 device to a crowd of media folk and analysts at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Theater in San Francisco, Calif.

Since then, the company has faced a series of setbacks that saw the product's launch slip from January to February and, most recently, to mid-March. In nearly all cases, the delays appear to have been software related.

"Wrapping up Apple TV is taking a few weeks longer than we projected, and we now expect to begin shipments mid-March," Apple recently told customers of its online store who have been waiting on their pre-orders to ship since January.

Although Apple has never offered an official explanation for the delays, speculation as to the latest two-week push back centered around the possibility that the device had yet to receive the necessary approval from the Federal Communications Commission. However, that appears not to have been the case.

People familiar with the matter have instead fingered NVIDIA as the source of the last month's delay, explaining that quirks in the embedded graphics software raised some last minute red flags over in Apple's quality assurance department.

Apple, those same people say, had anticipated a manufacturing ramp early last month when it began supplying its Taiwanese OEM partner Hon Hai (Foxconn) —not Inventec as earlier media reports had suggested —with build materials for the Mac mini-shaped set-top boxes.

Apple TV

As AppleInsider exclusively reported back in January, Apple TV will drawn its graphics capabilities from NVIDIA's G72M graphics chipset with 64MB DDR2 video memory —essentially the firm's GeForce Go 7400 chip.

At the heart of Apple TV device is a 1.0GHz Pentium M-based Intel chip with 2MB of L2 cache (code-named "Crofton"), which will be under-clocked to run on a 350MHz bus. The device will also pack 256MB of non-upgradable 400MHz DDR2 main system memory, a 40GB 2.5-inch PATA hard disk drive, and a 802.11n capable wireless card.